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Document Details :
Title: Interreligious Engagement in a Muslim Town of Indonesia
Subtitle: Muslims and Chinese in Lasem, Central Java
Author(s): AHNAF, Mohammad Iqbal
Journal: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue
Volume: 30 Issue: 1 Date: 2020
Interreligious engagement in context where a dominant culture of majority rules often requires conformity from the side of minority groups to the extent of compromising their beliefs and freedom. This is not the case in Lasem. The coastal town in central Java, Indonesia, is characterized by the strong traditional Islamic culture and yet it has been for centuries a safe home to diverse religious minorities professed mostly by Chinese ethnic groups. Majority Muslims in Lasem have established conditions for peaceful interreligious engagement with other religious groups (Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism) and produced a collective culture that includes minority religious groups as a part of their imagined community. In this case, smaller groups of the community cannot be categorized as minority because their culture is not subordinated as a subculture but contributes in shaping the imagined community of the larger society. Based on the author’s visits to Lasem in 2012 to 2017, through which the author conducted deep interviews with Muslim, Christian and cultural leaders of Lasem, this paper challenges the dominant culture argument that suggests conformity is the only way for interreligious and intergroup relations in areas with a dominant religious or cultural entity. Further, this study shows how conditions for peaceful interreligious engagement are reproduced and sustained in changing circumstances.